Russia targeted Western military supplies for Ukraine on Sunday, launching strikes on Kyiv as Vladimir Putin warned that any Western delivery of longer-range rocket systems would prompt Moscow to strike ‘objects we haven’t yet affected”.
The Russian leader’s threat of military escalation did not specify what the new targets might be. It came days after the US announced plans to provide $700m (£560m) in security aid to Ukraine, which includes four medium-range rocket systems precision-guided vehicles, as well as helicopters, Javelin anti-tank systems, radars, tactical vehicles and more.
The UK also announced that it would send its first long-range missiles to Ukraine. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has said Britain will send an unspecified number of M270 launchers, which can fire precision-guided rockets up to 50 miles – a longer range than any missile technology currently in use during the war.
In a television interview broadcast on Sunday, Mr Putin denounced Western arms supplies to Ukraine, saying they were aimed at prolonging the war.
“All this fuss over additional arms deliveries, in my opinion, has only one goal: to prolong the armed conflict as long as possible,” Putin said.
He insisted that such supplies were unlikely to change the military situation of the Ukrainian government, which he said was only compensating for losses from similar rockets.
If Kyiv gets longer-range rockets, he added, Moscow “will draw appropriate conclusions and use our means of destruction, which we have in abundance, to hit the objects we haven’t hit yet”. .
The missiles that hit Kyiv destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armored vehicles, the Russian Defense Ministry said on the Telegram app.
Ukraine’s railway authority led journalists on a guided tour of a wagon repair plant in eastern Kyiv which it said was hit by four missiles. The authority said no military equipment was stored there, and Associated Press reporters saw no remains of it in the destroyed building of the facility.
“There were no tanks, and you can just witness that,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s office.
However, a government adviser told national television that military infrastructure was also targeted. AP reporters saw a burning building in an area near the destroyed wagon factory.
Two residents of this neighborhood said the warehouse-like structure that was billowing smoke was part of a tank repair facility. Police blocking access to the site told an AP reporter that military authorities had banned the taking of images there.
The United States has stopped offering longer-range weapons to Ukraine that could fire deep into Russia. But the four medium-range high-mobility artillery rocket systems in the Security Pack include wheeled launchers that allow troops to hit a target and then scoot away quickly, which could be useful against Russian artillery on the battlefield.
Moscow also accused the West on Sunday of cutting lines of communication by forcing Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s plane to cancel a trip to Serbia for talks on Monday.
Serbia’s neighbors have closed their airspace to Lavrov’s plane, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Italian television in comments reported by Russian news agencies. Earlier in the day, the Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti said that Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro would not allow the passage of Mr. Lavrov’s plane.
“This is another closed communication channel,” Ms Zakharova said.
Spanish daily El Pais reported on Sunday that Spain plans to supply anti-aircraft missiles and up to 40 Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks to Ukraine. The Spanish Ministry of Defense did not comment on the report.
Prior to Sunday morning’s attack, Kyiv had not faced such Russian airstrikes since the April 28 visit of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The attack raised air raid alarms and showed that Russia still had the ability and the will to strike at the heart of Ukraine, despite refocusing its efforts to capture Ukrainian territory to the east.
In recent days, Russian forces have focused on capturing the eastern Ukrainian towns of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. On Sunday, they continued their push, with missiles and airstrikes on towns and villages in Donbass.
In the cities of Sloviansk and Bakhmut, cars and military vehicles were seen speeding towards the city from the front line. Dozens of military doctors and paramedics worked to evacuate Ukrainian civilians and military, and a hospital was busy treating the wounded, many of whom had been hit by artillery fire.
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in its daily intelligence update that the Ukrainian counterattacks in Sieverodonetsk “probably blunted the operational momentum that Russian forces had previously gained by concentrating combat units and power of fire”. Russian forces had previously made a series of advances into the city, but Ukrainian fighters have pushed back in recent days.
The statement also said that the Russian army relies in part on the reserve forces of the Luhansk separatists.
“These troops are poorly equipped and poorly trained, and lack heavy equipment compared to regular Russian units,” the intelligence update said, adding that the move “indicates a desire to limit casualties to Russian regular forces. “.